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Net Neutrality: What’s at Stake

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On December 14th, the FSA voted on the future of the Internet. The debate has become an increasingly controversial topic since 2015, when an Obama-era policy placed strict policies on Internet provider companies to keep the Internet as open place for everyone as possible. Recent arguments lead by chairman Ajit Pai have lead to the vote which ended 3-2 in favor of revoking the policies.

The Internet has fired back with petitions, calls to the FCC voters, use of the popular ResistBot, and multiple trending hashtags since the vote was announced to take place in late November. While some voters criticized American’s reaction to the vote, Michael O’Reilly (Federal Communications Commissions seat holder) even going as far to admit he didn’t read many of the emails, phone calls, and petitions sent to him, many people have taken to Twitter to voice their frustration in the government’s lack of representation of their voice.

Net Neutrality is the idea that the Internet is open for everyone to enjoy. Consumers pay a monthly flat rate (anywhere from $50 to $100+ USD) for access to all of the Internet, from social media to streaming sites to news and other basic information that citizens deserve access to on a daily basis. In 2003, the Internet was declared a human right by the United Nations. This is the way the Internet has been since its creation, and the Obama-era restrictions were placed to ensure that it stayed like this. Without Net Neutrality, Internet providers have the power to limit and even block access to certain websites. Consumers may find themselves paying for individual monthly packages. Internet providers can even slow down and block some websites entirely, raising worries that valuable information will be lost on the American public.

Net Neutrality’s opposers argue that the restrictions placed on Internet providers prevent them from competing and succeeding in the business world, and that the current situation costs companies money. They also argue that consumers can save money by choosing the aspects of the Internet that they want to use, instead of paying a large rate for all of it. Do Internet providers make money, or do consumers save money?

The truth of the matter is that the status of Net Neutrality will affect every facet of American life. Businesses will have to pay more to access the right programs for their research, development, and advertising, which will lead to increasing product prices to compensate for this loss. Schools will lose access to most encyclopedias, or will need more donations and fees to pay for their access, which could raise state and local taxes. Poor Americans will face the full force of the blow, and may end up losing access to the news and social media in favor of their online textbooks and bank accounts. Consumers are particularly worried about losing their access to information that traditional televised media hasn’t covered.

Just because the Net Neutrality regulations lost the FCC’s vote does not mean that it’s going away any time soon. The vote will have to be approved in court, which has failed to be passed through twice before, and it may be called upon for congressional appeal. While the FCC hopes to see the repeal of Net Neutrality regulations, many senators and house representatives have declared their support for a free and open Internet.

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Net Neutrality: What’s at Stake